Fancy meals are a nice treat now and then, but sometimes all you want at the end of a long day is a simple, comforting bowl of pasta. It doesn’t have to be loaded with cream sauce and cheese to be satisfying, nor does it have to be drowned in oil or butter.
It’s been a little while since actual pasta–not spaghetti squash noodles or zucchini ribbons–has made it onto my blog. The last recipe was this orecchiette with cauliflower and peas made with butternut squash sauce posted almost a year ago. As a pasta lover this definitely wasn’t intentional. Like most foods, pasta can have a place within an overall healthy, balanced diet. It’s just a matter of keeping portions in check, using whole grain pasta and loading up on the vegetables.
Fun fact: pasta primavera was invented in Canada! Didn’t see that one coming…thanks Wikipedia for the tidbit of knowledge. Apparently it was first made in the mid ’70s by a chef while visiting a friend in Nova Scotia. He brought the dish back to his Manhattan restaurant where it took off and eventually became a staple in American cuisine.
Spaghetti primavera falls somewhere between a stick-to-your-ribs pasta dinner and a light and healthy veggie-heavy main. It’s a great dish to make when you have a mix of different vegetable scraps on hand. With spring and early summer in mind, I used a medley of fresh asparagus, snow peas, carrots, green onions and cherry tomatoes in this recipe. A few others to try:
- Bell pepper
- Green beans
- Shelled peas
- Snap peas
- Zucchini and other summer squash
The “sauce” is nothing more than garlic simmered in olive oil and tossed with a bit of hot pasta water, a squeeze of lemon and some Parmesan cheese. It coats the noodles nicely and lets the crisp-tender veggies stand out. A handful of fresh herbs like basil or parsley added at the end of cooking gives the dish an extra hit of vegetal flavour.
If you’d like to add protein, try mixing in some cubed mozzarella, cooked shrimp, chopped chicken breast or ham.
What’s your go-to pasta dish? Leave a comment and let me know!
- 1 375-g package whole grain spaghetti
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large carrot, sliced into thin coins
- 1 cup snow peas
- 1/2 bunch thin asparagus, cut into 1-inch lengths
- 2 green onions, cut into 1-inch lengths
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the carrots, snow peas, asparagus, green onions and cherry tomatoes; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are crisp-tender and the tomatoes are blistered in spots.
- Add the cooked spaghetti and pasta water directly to the pan, tossing to coat evenly. Top with the lemon juice and Parmesan cheese, tossing some more to combine evenly.
- Divide among serving bowls, top with more cheese if desired and serve immediately.